Researchers at UTHSC Begin New Study on Parkinson’s Disease

|

Researchers at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) are recruiting participants for a national clinical study of medication that could slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease.

Researchers at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) are recruiting participants for a national clinical study of medication that could slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease. The study, referred to as “QE3,” will examine the effectiveness of the research medication Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ). During the study, investigators will administer high doses of CoQ to participants 30 years of age or older with early stage Parkinson’s disease to reduce the speed of their physical decline. The research is sponsored by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and will be conducted by the Parkinson Study Group, an international council of physicians and researchers experienced in caring for Parkinson’s patients and studying the disease.

In Memphis, Ronald Pfeiffer, MD, a neurologist at UT Health Science Center, and a member of the Parkinson Study Group, will lead the local effort of this phase III clinical trial.

“Memphians who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease within the last five years and are not receiving treatment for their symptoms may be eligible for the study,” said Dr. Pfeiffer. Assigned physicians will examine study volunteers every four months during a 16-month period. Participants will be randomly assigned to receive treatment with either active CoQ (which will also contain vitamin E) or a matching placebo. Investigators at 60 clinical sites in the United States and Canada will enroll about 600 participants with early signs of Parkinson’s disease. Each site will enroll approximately 10 individuals. There is no cost to participate in the study.

In Parkinson’s disease, the brain cells that produce a chemical called dopamine are gradually lost, resulting in a decrease in dopamine levels. Without enough dopamine, patients experience symptoms such as tremors, muscle rigidity, balance problems, slow movement and others. Currently, doctors can treat these symptoms with drugs that boost dopamine levels. However, there are no available treatments to reduce the rate of clinical decline. “A medication that could slow the progression of Parkinson disease would be a major breakthrough for patients living with the disease,” said Walter Koroshetz, MD, deputy director, NIH National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Adults 30 years old and above with early stage Parkinson’s disease who wish to participate in the study should contact Brenda Pfeiffer, UTHSC research nurse coordinator, at (901) 271-5966, or visit the Parkinson Study Group web site at www.parkinson-study-group.org. Call toll free: (888) 887-3774.